Tuesday, September 27, 2016

And so it begins...

The much awaited riposte has begun.

PM Modi has refused to attend the SAARC meeting in Islamabad.

PM Modi has suspended the Permanent Indus Commission indefinitely.

The Indian media and diplomatic initiative after Uri had sought to paint Islamabad as terrorist state and given its long history of hosting terrorist groups and harboring irredentist positions - the label stuck to Pakistan.

PM Modi was careful not to abrogate the Indus Water Treaty but to simply suspend the Permanent Commission which adjudicates issues that come up during the implementation of the treaty.  By linking the restoration of the Permanent Commission's talks to the "end of terror" - the Indian PM has drawn a line in the sand.

This is a major shift in the India Pakistan discourse.

This is a very direct articulation of an existential threat to Pakistan.

Pakistan is a lower riparian state and despite all pretenses - it cannot alter the status quo in Kashmir. Should India choose to go its own way on water issues, the entire agro-economy of Pakistan would collapse under the weight of speculative panic in its grain markets.

We have now entered a new phase of India Pakistan relations.

This puts us into a space that I call "Beyond Cohen". Steve Cohen's basic hypothesis was that India would respond militarily to a Pakistan attributed terrorist attack and that would set the situation railing towards an escalatory peak.

By de-activating the Permanent Commission - the situation has escalated without a military act by India.

This is important - the move indicates PM Modi's willingness to  engage in a test of wills. He has indicated to everyone he is not backing down from a fight - but he also has numerous non-military options at his disposal which Pakistan has no counter for. For all the forces it possess the Pakistan Army cannot bring water to the people of Pakistan.

It  remains to be seen how Pakistan responds, but it would appear that PM Modi's move has signaled that his patience with the Pakistan Army and its behavior is at an end.



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